Tomb of the Soul, Temple, Machine and the Self
Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts
2018.07.28 — 2018.10.21
The body is the last remaining frontier that mirrors complexities produced by thoughts, cultures, and ideologies; it explicitly and implicitly intertwines and interacts with these complexities. Discourse around the body emerged in the last century in the field of sociology. Part of it came out of sociology’s own inclination to self-reflect and self-reinvent, as it became its own discipline. Sociologist Anthony Synnott references theories of the body put forth by Plato, St. Paul, Sartre, and Descartes in painting a picture of the beginning of Western Sociology. He lays out the changing meaning of the body sociologically speaking by tracing Western philosophical thought, from the mind-body dualism, religiosity, to the discipline of the productive body. When it comes to the body and its materiality, Western culture largely views it as a symbol of impurity, a perfectly constructed craft, a subject of medicine, or a projected product in digital culture. Synnott suggests that this is because the myth of the dichotomy between the soul and the decaying body runs through Western philosophy. In the meantime, the rich metaphorical capacity of the body provides a platform for abstract political ideologies to be enacted. The body becomes a site for visual associations that connect narrative with knowledge, meaning with perception. Therefore, being able to represent the body is to be able to deliver something with concrete and with specificity. In doing so, the body can successfully used to establish a solid foundation for certain ideologies.
The history of colonialism in Taiwan registers the body as a site capable of hosting multiple identities’ engravings. Although, this body’s construction is not completely free from the western conception of the body. One finds internalized Orientalism in this colonized national body, along with a heterogeneity produced by repeated setback and frustration. In order to reject this cultural diplopia, we need the body to be inscribed. We need to examine different imaginaries and possibilities around how history could be displayed or manifested by the body.
The metaphorical body allows for different inferences and contemporary interpretations. Each is its own translation event and needs its own engraving. Together, these depictions create a non-continuous continuum. The incommensurable differences amongst the translation events establish a special connection between the body and visual culture. This way of thinking is a kind of constellative reading. It expresses opposition and resistance towards homogeneity through many fragmented, or fractured, narratives.